Conclusion: Time for a Change

When Toshiba released the Portege R700 in 2010, it came out of nowhere. We didn't have ultrabooks on the market, and nobody was expecting a design like that from Toshiba of all companies. The design served them well, and they extended that design language to respectable notebooks like their Tecra R840 and R850 lines.

The problem is that while the R700 was a fine effort, it wasn't perfect out of the gate, and it seems like Toshiba's designers may have gotten nervous about messing with success. The result is an R835 with hardware updates under the hood but none of its predecessor's issues resolved. On the contrary, the R835 seems to have suffered in the interim.

Fundamentally we have a sound design, but things fall apart in key areas of the experience. The display is the same problem we've belabored time and time again; that's easy enough to fix provided economies of scale pick up and better quality displays become more readily available, and judging from the explosion of the tablet market this is entirely possible. The keyboard is simple enough to revise, too; lose the glossy keycaps, increase the y-height of the keys, and somehow fix the mushy tactile response. These two items are things that most users can adjust to on a regular notebook, but they're fixable at the design phase as well.

Unfortunately, the last major issue with the R835 is the cooling design. I'm not convinced this is unsolvable, but Toshiba may have to make serious revisions under the hood to get thermals in check—or they have to look at sacrificing quiet running for lower temperatures. My other problems with the R835 were things I could see someone adjusting to, but I can't recommend a system with a CPU that's hitting the high 90s under full load, let alone Intel's spec 100C.

What's disappointing is that if it wasn't for those thermals, I could probably give the Portege R835 a tentative recommendation. Battery life is fantastic, performance is solid enough, and the features are there. I can see the R835 theoretically being a fine solution for certain users. As it stands, though, I couldn't in good conscience recommend a notebook that's pretty much banking on its warranty the moment it ships.

Another Low Quality TN Panel
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  • retrospooty - Friday, March 30, 2012 - link

    "My aforementioned laptop IS 768p, and I can do everything you just mentioned, perfectly fine. Sure I have to scroll. That's not really a big deal to me"

    That is exactly why we hate it. I dont want to scroll to click "OK" or "next" on every other window when I am working. Its aweful. Its not really about scrolling to read a web-page. Its about decision boxes and or buttons you need to click to process something, apply a change or make whatever decision your app or site needs you to make and you cant see the options or button because its below the bottom of the aweful 768 line screen. AAAAAAUGH just typing it pisses me off. LOL
    Reply
  • tim851 - Friday, March 30, 2012 - link

    I have an 11" 768p laptop and I can't remember ever having to scroll for confirmation buttons. 1024x768 is the baseline for Windows 7, everything should be a-okay here. Reply
  • retrospooty - Saturday, March 31, 2012 - link

    Its not.

    I deal with alot of different software, servers and IT related stuff. Its totally unlivable.

    I suppose for a normal person it works.
    Reply
  • KPOM - Sunday, April 01, 2012 - link

    It's good enough in an 11.6" display, but for 13" or larger a higher resolution ought to be standard by now. Having more vertical real estate is a good thing. Reply
  • retrospooty - Friday, March 30, 2012 - link

    "I saw the resolution was only 1366x768 on a 13.3" display and just skipped the rest."

    Exactly. As soon as I see that it goes straight to the no way in hell would I but it or recomend it to anyone.Total deal breaker. My freegin 4 inch phone has almost that much res.
    Reply
  • dcianf - Friday, March 30, 2012 - link

    Am I the only one seeing an iPhoto for iOS gallery on page 2? Reply
  • dave_the_nerd - Friday, March 30, 2012 - link

    Nope. Reply
  • Dustin Sklavos - Friday, March 30, 2012 - link

    Fixed. Reply
  • Colin1497 - Friday, March 30, 2012 - link

    Didn't I just read an iPad review where it was discussed that chassis changes were expensive? Toshiba has been in this market for a LONG time. This is now 8 generations of product named Portege RXXX and there were Portege 2000 model (review from 2002: http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,7722,00.asp). I've owned a number of them, going back to the 2000, and it's common for them to keep a chassis and general design around for 2 hardware cycles. I wouldn't be shocked at all to see the R9xx have a bunch more changes. Reply
  • bji - Friday, March 30, 2012 - link

    Here is how I read an Anadtech notebook review:

    Before reading a single word, skip immediately to the features chart on the first page. Look for the Display line item. If it says 768p, STOP. Do not read article. If it says something better, enjoy article.

    Stop wasting your time reviewing notebooks with stupid display resolutions. I will not read them. Demand that vendors send you notebooks with worthwhile resolutions and refuse to review 768p notebooks.

    Thank you.
    Reply

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